From Publishers Weekly
In Australian Kennedy's (Dark Roots) chick friendly debut novel, 15-year-old anorexic Sophie Reynolds comes of age in a fast-paced, well-observed study of family relationships. Sophie's mother, former hippie Sandy, trundles toward middle age with hennaed hair and a flagging jewelry business. Then Rich, Sophie's father, reappears to offer a week-long backpacking trip in Tasmania that Sophie sees as an opportunity to bond with her mysterious father, annoy her mother, and indulge her obsession with rigorous exercise. Rich, a deadbeat dad with a dead-end job, hopes to impress his wayward daughter with fancy hiking gear and borrowed music. But when he strays from the path without a map, stalking the perfect photo, he endangers them both. With Rich and Sophie missing, Sandy is forced to re-examine her life: her criticizing mother; her festering resentment of Rich; and her friends, who enjoy crises more than company. The pitfalls of nostalgia and the disappointment of everyday life contrast sharply with the ravishing Tasmanian landscapes Kennedy is excellent at painting, along with interpersonal terrain, but the novel wants to be more profound than it actually is. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Rich and Sandy endlessly relive the high point of their lives when they were part of a successful environmental protest movement some 25 years ago. But things have not gone well for them since. Rich left the marriage after the birth of their daughter and has been on the run ever since, finally acknowledging that the decades have gone by with not much to show for them. Hapless Sandy has struggled to make a living fashioning handmade jewelry and attempting to sell it at crafts fairs. Their teenage daughter, Sophie, has morphed from a happy toddler into a sullen goth with a serious eating disorder. Then Rich proposes that he and Sophie take a wilderness hike in Tasmania as a way of reconnecting. While Sandy spends the week at a retreat attempting to get in touch with her inner goddess, Rich and Sophie find themselves in the outback severely unprepared for the arduous climb and inclement weather. In elegant, fluidly written prose, Kennedy not only delivers scathing portraits of the ineffectual adults and the times that shaped them but also makes the epic wilderness another vividly rendered character in the story. A gripping debut. --Joanne Wilkinson